Over the next few days, the childish sages caught up on their sessions.
Fang Ren showed up at some point, where she revealed that she had broken through to the internalisation realm, which was why she was missing on the day they had come.
Upon seeing Fang Ren, Hei realised that her services were no longer needed. He had found a new caretaker for Bai, namely Mei.
There was only a slight age difference, but Mei had lived alone in the Spring Leaf Forest for her whole life. She was probably quite worldly, unlike Bai who had been living an easy life.
After some thought, he decided to let Fang Ren do whatever she wanted. If she wanted to go to the Radiant Jade Sect with Bai, then great, but if not, that wasn’t a problem either.
The time soon came for the four’s birthday, and with it, Mei’s first birthday banquet.
As was custom, she wasn’t told anything about it until it began.
Shao Chen announced the beginning of the banquet, and as he did, he, Xiulan, Tianlan, Hei and Bai all went for the bread.
They took a piece each and placed it in their mouths before going for more.
Mei was flustered. She didn’t expect this to be a competition.
Bai spoke up.
“You better hurry up, Sister Mei. There is no mercy at the birthday banquet.”
She said this as she grabbed another piece of bread and placed it in her mouth.
“W-wait. Darling, save some for me.”
Mei tried to appeal to Hei, but her words fell on deaf ears.
“There is no Darling at the birthday banquet.”
Even the other soul wouldn’t listen to her right now. There truly was no mercy at the birthday banquet, not even for soulmates.
Besides, with Shao Chen at the table, it was impossible to go easy. He had an unnatural speed when it came to the banquet.
Seeing that her attempt was useless, Mei rushed to take some bread.
Bai jumped in:
“Uh-uh. You have to have bread in your mouth before you can take more!”
Hei added on:
“That’s right, no cheating!”
Mei complained in her mind about these strange human traditions, but she could only play by the rules.
By the time she had gotten the hang of it, all of the bread was gone.
Hei couldn’t help but complain.
“Ah. Grandpa! You must be cheating!”
“So, when things don’t go his way, my grandson complains about the world instead of looking to himself. Sigh.”
“This. Why do you make it sound like I said something unreasonable?”
With that, the birthday banquet was over.
Mei took a moment to appreciate her first birthday celebration with her family.
It was nice.
After a while, the matriarch finalised the preparations for the childish sages’ open lectures. They would be held once a week, and the first lecture would be two days from the time she informed the childish sages about the schedule.
She took a day to inform the clan of the new event, and to her surprise, the tense atmosphere evaporated immediately and was replaced with irrepressible excitement.
This was even before she had revealed the new resources. She was still working with the head of the alchemy hall to come up with the best way to process them.
“Did you hear? The childish sages are conducting lectures.”
“Of course, I heard about it. Ah, to think we’ll be able to learn from them directly.”
“The individual sessions were great, but the amount of time between them was too long, with so many juniors.”
“Yeah. This way, we’ll be able to get guidance every week. See if I don’t make dramatic improvements before the 5-sect summit.”
“Haha. Not only you, but I’ll also rise to the top, just like Fang Ren. If the sages say to jump, I won’t dare return to the ground.”
“So, you’re just going to start flying?”
“If that’s what it takes, why not? Don’t I just have to break through a few cultivation realms?”
Discussions like this were happening all throughout the Fang Clan, and the juniors couldn’t wait for the first lecture.
Even some of the elders were excited.
After practising the techniques that the childish sages had improved, they felt like they were wasting their lives before. If only they had met the childish sages in their youth. Who knows where they would be now.
When the childish sages showed up to the venue, which was the assembly hall of the Fang Clan, they were surprised to see the seats packed with juniors.
Even some elders were standing behind them in anticipation of the lecture.
The matriarch showed them to the stage where they would begin their lecture.
As they walked up, the juniors cheered loudly.
When they reached the middle, Hei raised his hand, and the place turned to silence immediately.
It was such a sudden change, that it left him stunned for a moment.
He stood back and allowed Bai to take the front.
“Hello, Fang Clan juniors and a few elders too. This is the first of the lectures we will be conducting in preparation for the 5-sect summit.”
She paused before continuing.
“We will begin by discussing the body refining realm.”
Bai could hear a few murmurs in the crowd.
“Most of you will assume you already know all there is to know about the body refining realm, but you are sorely mistaken. The essence…”
Bai went on to explain her comprehensions of the body refining real, in simple words. She even described how it was the foundation which greatly impacts one’s advancement to the transcendent realm.
The juniors didn’t really soak in that part, but it resonated deeply with the elders who had been stuck at the peak of the internalisation realm for decades.
They now realised that their overconsumption of cultivation resources in their youth and their laziness was what brought about their bottlenecks.
And that if they wanted to break through to the transcendent realm, they first had to solidify their body refining cultivation.
The juniors, on the other hand, were shown how flawed their understanding of the body refining realm was. They were missing crucial concepts and had added extra complexities to what was simple.
“As you can see, there is much more to the body refining realm than you thought. You should take this information and apply it to your own cultivations.”
After Bai finished speaking, Hei stepped forward again.
“We will now accept questions from the audience. If anything is unclear, please feel free to ask.”
Hearing Hei’s words, a few juniors enthusiastically raised their hands.
If Hei had been paying attention, he would have noticed something.
He pointed to one young lady, who asked:
“What is the relationship between Fang Ren and the childish sages?”
Hei was confused by the off-topic question, but he answered anyway.
“Sister Ren is our friend.”
After answering, he could hear a few murmurs in the audience.
He then chose another junior. Another young lady.
“Does Sage Tianlan have a girlfriend?”
Hei turned to Tianlan, who was giving him a triumphant smile.
“He doesn’t, but we were expecting questions about-”
Hei’s words were cut off by the screams of the young ladies.
“Single? No, he’s mine!”
“You think so? Over my dead body!”
“All of you are delusional. Sage Tianlan has been glancing at me the entire time!”
All of a sudden, chaos broke out in the audience.
Not only were Hei and the others surprised, the matriarch, the elders, and Fang Lian, who was hiding in the back, were all lost for words.
The elders jumped in and broke up the fighting young ladies, who realised that the childish sages had disappeared.
Unfortunately for them, the childish sages became extremely elusive until the next lecture.
Only those lucky few young ladies, whose names had been selected for the daily sessions were able to see Sage Tianlan.
Needless to say, Hei wasn’t feeling so good, and Tianlan’s days were filled with laughter.
By the time of the second lecture, the Fang Clan had benefited greatly.
By reinforcing their body refining cultivations, they were able to see the improvements extend up through the realms that they had reached.
“In this lecture, we will focus on the externalisation realm.”
Bai paused, and this time, there was silence. The audience had learned that they should not speak in front of the childish sages.
Pleased with the result, Bai continued.
“First of all, the method to break through. This involves colliding your branded Qi with the natural Qi in order to…”
As Bai was explaining the breakthrough process, a lot of the audience gasped in realisation. The elders who had been advising the juniors to break through by smothering the Qi were embarrassed.
They had inadvertently held the juniors back.
Bai then went on to explain the rest of her understanding of the externalisation realm.
This time, the audience had come prepared and were taking down notes, copying Bai’s words verbatim.
After Bai’s lecture was over, Hei stepped forward and asked if there were any questions.
This time, he noticed that the majority of the hands were those of young ladies, so he deliberately chose a boy.
“Umm. Does Sage Mei have a boyfriend?”
Hei could hear Mei giggling beside him, and the other soul became very active. This was a very uncomfortable situation.
“Uh. She is my fiancée…”
Mei was very happy to hear these words coming from Hei, but they caused an explosion in the audience.
“What? Sage Hei has a fiancée?”
“What in the world is going on? How does he have a fiancée and I’m sitting here single?”
“But he’s so… so…”
“I think my head’s going to explode.”
“This is the most unfair thing of all time. Can someone introduce me to a white-haired girl?”
Hearing this much, Hei took his people and disappeared. He could hear Tianlan’s laughter as they were travelling.
After this second lecture, the percentage of body refining cultivators in the Fang Clan decreased dramatically.
The elders of the ascension hall were having difficulty keeping up with all of the breakthroughs.
After the third lecture which was on the internalisation realm, a similar situation occurred.
All those who were stuck at the peak of the externalisation realm found themselves able to make the breakthrough into the internalisation realm.
At this point, the childish sages were the highest authority in the minds of the juniors. Even the elders saw this as a natural result.
After the fourth lecture, which was about the transcendent realm, a few elders were able to get past their life-long bottlenecks and break through to the transcendent realm.
After the foundational lectures were complete, Bai introduced the real material.
“Some of you may think that those with single element spirit roots are superior. Well, that thinking is erroneous.”
Bai expected there to be a large reaction, but the audience just nodded their heads, as if what she had just said was the most natural thing in the world.
She turned to Hei who also nodded his head.
“Then… It is only a lack of appropriate cultivation techniques that causes this misconception. However, we have created cultivation techniques up to the transcendent realm for every combination of spirit roots.”
The childish sages had spent quite a lot of effort to create these techniques, but they named them very lazily. It was essentially, fire and water foundation, water, earth and metal foundation, etc.
For every combination of spirit roots, there would be the corresponding cultivation methods, all the way up to the transcendent realm.
They used Fang Ren’s Myriad kindness as the base and even created variants for the core clan members and the regular members to maintain the balance of power.
“You will have to restart from the body refining realm, and it may impact your performance at the 5-sect summit, but it will build a very solid foundation for your futures. We have invited-”
Bai’s words were cut off by an excited junior.
“Where can we find them?”
After that junior, there were many more voices who asked the same question.
The four were not expecting this. They had even brought Fang Ren to display the benefits of the techniques.
“Anyone who is interested can find the techniques in the cultivation hall in the elemental foundations’ section.”
The matriarch had prepared an entire section of the cultivation hall for this new set of techniques. She was well aware that it would become the Fang Clan’s new core inheritance.
After the lecture, Hei was reluctant to ask for questions, but he wanted to give the juniors a chance to clear up anything that they found confusing or unclear.
Luckily, it seemed that the juniors had decided amongst themselves to wait for those who had serious questions before the nonsense ones began, so he was able to get a real question.
“Will you be conducting a lecture on alchemy? I have been having trouble with my pill refining.”
Hearing this, Bai was interested. The three had forgotten about the alchemy hall, because it was just an auxiliary occupation, and they didn’t need cultivation resources.
But since someone asked, she decided to dive into it. She had read all of the books in the Fang Clan anyway.
“Then the next lecture will be on alchemy.”
They had originally planned to start the combat technique lectures after the foundational lectures, but since alchemy was a big part of the Fang Clan, she adjusted the plan.
With that, the lecture was over.
By the time of the next lecture, to the childish sages’ surprise, most of the Fang Clan were now body refining cultivators.
Everyone who had mixed roots, except for Fang Ren, had abandoned their cultivations, elders included. They were now practising the elemental foundations series.
They were only able to do this because they had the matriarch as a transcendent realm umbrella that would keep the clan stable until they regained their strength.
They all eagerly awaited the lecture while cultivating their new techniques.
Some of the experienced elders had already reached the peak and were ready to break through, but they were holding it off until after the lecture. They didn’t want to miss a single one.
Over the past week, the four had gone into the forest to pick up some resources so that Hei could practice the alchemical techniques Bai came up with.
Luckily for him, cauldron explosions were an external thing and his defence was more than able to handle them. The faulty pills on the other hand…
During the week, they had become quite knowledgeable on alchemy at the level that was practised in the Fang Clan.
After hearing the lecture that was conducted on alchemy, the head alchemist of the clan had some new insights and was able to come up with appropriate refining methods for the natural treasures that the childish sages had donated.
From then on, the alchemy hall started rolling out various pills that caused a rapid increase in the cultivations of the whole clan.
The alchemy levels of the juniors also rose as a result of the new techniques they had been taught.
The combat lectures started after that, and Tianlan began instructing them on the art of the critical hit.
He was aware that not everyone had eyes like his that revealed weaknesses, but after many sparring sessions, he was able to notice some external indicators, that he shared with the Fang Clan.
An awful lot of young ladies volunteered to be practice partners for Tianlan’s demonstrations, but Hei had Mei do it. She didn’t have much use when it came to giving out information, so he had her be the practice dummy.
After a few months of Tianlan’s combat instruction, the Fang Clan became far more lethal in their attacks. It was in stark contrast to the way they previously sparred, making sure not to hurt each other too badly.
Tianlan only taught them the way to maximise damage, while minimising battle time. In other words, how to defeat your opponent quickly.
This kind of training was made possible by the large number of healing resources that they had found in the forest.
After the combat training, Hei began his lectures on Qi manipulation and efficiency, as a supplement to Tianlan’s lectures.
“Some of you are proud of your flashy Fang Clan yin and yang techniques, swinging around flaming swords, and freezing the ground below your feet. Well, let me tell you something. It’s wasteful, stop it.”
Hei was trying to show the Fang Clan that being low key was not only more efficient, but it was more effective too.
Because Hei didn’t need to spend any mental energy on cultivation, he had done an awful lot of Qi manipulation and was always looking for more efficient ways to use his Qi.
With the addition of Unlimited Chain Works, his understanding of Qi and how to use it effectively, grew by leaps and bounds.
“Take a look at this. This is the Inferno Sword you are used to.”
Hei took a sword and by creating some temporary fire element roots, he activated one of the Fang Clan’s sword techniques.
It was engulfed in bright red flames that let out a lot of heat.
“As you can see, it’s quite flashy, right? It’s cool? Feels powerful?”
The audience nodded in response.
“Then take a look at this.”
Hei swung the sword at a straw puppet that was prepared beforehand.
As the sword cut through the puppet, it was lit aflame and burned to ashes after a while.
“Quite impressive right? We have added a burning element to our sword attack.”
The audience nodded in response.
“But take a look at this.”
Hei then modified the Inferno Sword technique. Now, instead of flames wrapping the sword, the sword itself started glowing bright red.
However, it didn’t give off as much heat, nor did it have the flashy live flames.
“Not as impressive right? Just a warm red sword.”
The audience nodded in response.
“Take a look.”
Hei sliced another puppet, but this time it didn’t catch fire. Instead, it directly turned to ashes, with a cloud of smoke.
Seeing this, the audience was shocked.
“You’re wondering how this could be? You haven’t seen anything yet.”
Hei then modified the technique again. This time there was nothing different between the Inferno Sword and a regular sword.
Hei turned to the audience and asked:
“Can you feel the power in the sword?”
The audience shook their heads in response.
Hei casually swung the sword and didn’t even hit the puppet. He was a good few meters away from it, but none the less, it was reduced to ashes.
“How is this possible?”
“He is obviously using a different technique. That can’t be Inferno Sword.”
“But what would be the point of the demonstration then?”
Hearing the voices of doubt, Hei gave them an explanation.
“It’s simple. I have abandoned the flashy aspects for a more efficient attack.”
The audience didn’t understand what these words meant, so Hei explained further.
“When you see flames dancing on the blade, it is a waste of energy. If you can feel the heat coming from the blade, it is a waste of energy. By placing all of the energy into the moment of attack, we are able to achieve the same result with less Qi and even add new options, such as a ranged attack.”
Hearing these words, the audience had faces of realisation.
“The only thing is, you will be using more mental energy to prevent the energy from escaping, but it’s worth it when you consider the Qi savings and the element of surprise in the attack. Think about it, would any of you have properly defended yourselves against that sword swing just now? You would have likely thought of it as a joke and ended up a pile of ashes.”
After hearing Hei’s words, the audience drew in cold breaths.
It was true. They would have likely underestimated that move if it were used in battle. Looking at the pile of ashes that was once a straw puppet, they felt cold chills down their spines.
“That wraps up today’s lecture. Next time I’ll be showing you how terrible your movement techniques are.”
Instead of being offended, the audience looked at Hei with excitement in their eyes.
Hei was taking a different approach than Bai and Tianlan. Not only was he imparting his comprehensions, but he was also giving them behavioural correction.
He was showing them that they were nothing much and that they had nothing to be proud of. This was in hopes that they would become humbler, and generally better people.
He made sure to eradicate any ‘trashy young master’ mentality from the minds of the juniors.
And so, up until the 5-sect summit, the Fang Clan was undergoing the training of the childish sages and growing more and more impressed by them.
The mixture of the excellent cultivation techniques and abundant resources meant that those who had abandoned their cultivations were able to climb back up to their previous levels.
The only difference was, they were much more powerful.
The city could feel that the Fang Clan had changed. They didn’t know why, but if the Fang Clan was previously in charge because they were the most suitable, they were now the obvious choice.
In the minds of the citizens, it would be strange if they weren’t in charge. Who would take their place? The Wu Clan? Don’t be ridiculous!
The changes to the juniors were especially noticeable. They were the ones who would interact with the regular citizens and juniors from other clans.
Hei’s methods were quite effective in letting them humble themselves.
If before, the juniors walked around expecting compliments, they were now just regular citizens. Almost like family, visiting from afar.
The ones who noticed it the most were the places of business.
In one particular restaurant in the city:
“What’s going on with the Fang Clan?”
“I don’t know. One of the juniors even called me ‘Uncle Wang’ the other day.”
“Mm, it’s odd. Usually, around the time of the summit, tensions would be running high. Why are they so relaxed?”
“Hey, don’t jinx it! Don’t you remember how those little brats used to walk around like they owned the place? This sure beats those days, I’ll tell you that.”
“Shut up Old Shen!”
Hearing his old friend telling him to shut up, Old Shen was angry. When he noticed his friend’s finger, he turned around, and what he saw almost caused his soul to leave his body.
It was a young man, wearing a Fang Clan robe.
“Ah! P-please, forgive me, Young Master. I didn’t mean to-”
He stopped his words when the young man placed his hand on his shoulder.
He was now regretting saying those words.
“Don’t worry about it, Uncle Shen. The childish sages have shown us the error of our ways. We won’t behave like that anymore.”
The young man then walked away while whistling a jolly tune.
Old Shen turned to his friend with a blank face.
“Thank the heavens for the childish sages.”
He didn’t know who they were, but he was deeply grateful to them.
Similar scenes here happening all over the city. The childish sages became a household name.
Another birthday banquet came, and not too long later, the time finally came for the 5-sect summit.
The matriarch was standing in front of the Fang Clan’s gates, all of the Fang Clan’s members behind her.
She turned to the young children in front of her as she spoke.
“Shall we go?”
Not a single person found it strange that there were people ahead of the matriarch, for they were the childish sages, the greatest benefactors to their Fang Clan.
“Mm. We walk.”
He flung his sleeve horizontally as he placed his arms behind his back and proceeded to walk.
To everyone there, he looked like a lonely expert standing at the peak of the world.
Bai, Tianlan and Mei followed after Hei, and the Fang Clan was about to follow, when all of a sudden, they heard a metallic roar and could feel the ground shaking.
From below Hei’s feet, a rift in space was formed and from it, came a giant dragon’s head, which swallowed Hei, along with his siblings.
The Fang Clan’s members were frightened stiff as they watched the dragon beat its wings and take to the sky.
Before they could react, four more dragon heads came out of the ground beneath them and swallowed up the Fang Clan members.
The next time light reached their eyes, they were soaring through the sky in a V formation. They could see Hei standing on the head of his dragon, his siblings behind him.
They heard Hei’s voice clearly beside their ears.
“Well, I guess we aren’t exactly walking…”